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Notes on Grace Canyon

Grace Canyon is an imaginary place where inspiration!comes from. “Grace” means a lot of different things, including divine assistance, prayer, beauty, a grace note, kindness, mercy…
The songs from this CD include:

1) Next Plane (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitars, congas & vocals: David Stockdale
electric guitar: Mario Chiesa
Hammond: Paolo Negri
tenor sax: Gianni Azzali
background vocals: Andrea Zermani
bass: Alex Carreri
drums: Stefano Bertolotti
Thanks to John “Juan Carlos” Thomas and David Pounders


“When our time runs out/It surprises you/All at once/We are only just passing through.”

The words to this song were inspired by the death of a close friend from high school, David Pounders. It was sudden, tragic and work-related. The idea of life being like a big airport where we are only just passing through came from another friend of mine, John “Juan Carlos” Thomas. “Next plane” has a double meaning: the next airplane we must take and the next plane of existence we must eventually face. Unfortunately, the notes regarding this song io the CD booklet are wrong due to a printing error. My apologies, especially to the musicians. The song ends on a “breath” through Big John Azzali’s tenor sax.

2) Melting Pot (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitars, vocals & harmonica: David Stockdale
soprano sax and background vocals: Andrea Zermani
bass: Alex Carreri
drums: Stefano Bertolotti
Thanks to my parents and godmother who supported
and financed my first trips abroad.


“From the Northwest U.S. to Monument Valley/Melbourne of the black swan, and the Red Sea/Tir Na Nog where your spirit can run free/Open you heart/Alone you’re not/Come play a part, in this/Melting Pot.”

What I was looking for here was something similar to Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” (I used to sing that song in primary school), but on a global level. I consider myself an internationalist. Co-operation and respect between nations is what I believe in, along with studying and speaking different languages (you’ll hear “Budapest” on this song the way the Hungarians say it!). On the other hand, I fight what Pasolini referred to as “cultural homogenisation”, where we all come from the same mould and desire the same things as advertised on TV, radio and the Internet, without the will power to question the legitimacy of what we are being spoon-fed. The great Walt Whitman expressed it so well in his poetry: it’s all about energy, not politics!

3) Tennessee Concert (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitars & vocals: David Stockdale
electric guitar: Mario Chiesa
background vocals: Andrea Zermani
bass: Alex Carreri
drums: Stefano Bertolotti
Thanks to Music City U.S.A, when Clinton was President.


“Night was fading into day/While history turned a page/In a ray of light, I stood and saw/On a river to the sea/The common good for each and all/I dropped down on my knees and started singing.”

I once witnessed a concert in Nashville where the performers played from a floating platform on the river while people looked on and listened from the banks. It was exciting and unforgettable. Years later, during the George W. administration, I returned to Nashville and found the music scene there had changed completely. The energy wasn’t the same. The town centre looked gutted out. There were more homeless people than I had ever remembered. Had it not been for the house band at the B.B King Blues Club, I would have left totally disheartened. So I envisioned a kind of musical Noah’s arc (or platform) to which the performers came one by one and the sum of their efforts created a magical moment, sparking the realisation we are all pieces of the same, great mirror, yet each with something beautiful and unique to express. Nothing new under the sun, I know, but I liked the feeling of it.

4) The Blues Inside (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitar & vocals: David Stockdale
Hammond: Paolo Negri
tenor sax: Gianni Azzali
bass: Alex Carreri
drums: Stefano Bertolotti
Thanks to Billy Wilder who said he wrote comedy when
he was depressed and tragedy when he was hapqy.


“You break ground, try to fix what broke/Hold down what is up in smoke/Forego all your better plans/When you know it’s in the palm of your hands.”

All the music on this CD was composed on an acoustic guitar with a D-tuning (made famous by, among others, David Crosby and Joni Mitchell). I love the Blues and had never written a Blues song in this particular tuning before. The point is we can’t deny the Blues, in any tuning, and we might as well be happy about it. I know it’s a paradox. Life is a paradox. To quote the great Luis Bunuel: “I am fanatically anti-fanatical!” or “Thank God I am an atheist!”

5) Compassion For the Enemy (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitars & vocals: David Stockdale
soprano sax and background vocals: Andrea Zermani
bass: Alex Carreri
drums & percussion: Stefano Bertolotti
Thanks to the Dalai-Lama and John “Juan Carlos” Thomas.


“Well, go right on praying/Beat your fists and scream/Say hell is waiting/For the ones like me/But we’re all just saying what we believe.”

My friend John “Juan Carlos” Thomas wrote me an e-mail with some stories about the Dalai-Lama. I was reading “L’Art du Bonheur” at the time, a conversation between Howard Cutler, a psychotherapist, and the Dalai-Lama (my first book in French, along with the screenplay from Truffaut’s film “La Nuit Americaine”—Day For Night). John quoted him as saying, in reference to the Chinese who had killed, pillaged and raped the people of Tibet, “my friends, the enemy.” I was dumbfounded by this incredible expression of compassion. I believe we are all ultimately looking for happiness and would do the best we could to attain it if it weren’t for so much illusion and so many distractions. A dreamer? What would happen if we all had genuine compassion for our enemies?

6) Paris Tonight (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitars & vocals: David Stockdale
electric guitar: Mario Chiesa
tenor sax: Gianni Azzali
bass: Alex Carreri
drums: Stefano Bertolotti
Mille fois merci à Paris et à les Parisiens!


“Gay are we/Kiss me, my lady/Everything will be all right/They can bitch, they can stay angry/For us, it’s Paris tonight.”

After Chirac’s refusal to support the war in Iraq (I know it was not just ideological and that France was looking after its interests, as well…), a lot of Americans began boycotting anything French and doing childish things like calling “French fries” (actually, they’re from Belgium) “freedom fries.” They were forgetting that most of the ideals and principles expressed by our founding fathers had come from France. I uphold the idea of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” not to mention, “liberté, egalité, fraternité,” which you can find written above the entrance to schools in France. It’s not that I am idealising France. There have their problems, too. I just don’t let anyone tell me who my enemies are and, unlike Mr. Bush, believe in travelling this world, not manipulating it. To quote the great pedagogue, Rudolf Steiner (my translation from Italian), “…refusing geography means nothing less than an aversion for love of thy neighbour.”


7) The Ballad of Tumbleweed (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitars & vocals: David Stockdale
electric guitar: Mario Chiesa
harmonica & background vocals: Andrea Zermani
fretless bass: Alex Carreri
batteria: Stefano Bertolotti
Thanks to the Dineh of Dinehtah and the sacred
land of Monument Valley.


“Tumbleweed was good to Earth/Planted seed of better worth/Bowed down to Her Master Plan/Clean the raging rivers ran.”

I wrote this song during the ordeal of John Paul II’s passing. The “Dineh” are better known to the White Man as the “Navajo”. Americans thought for a long time the Dineh had no religion. They were wrong. This judgement was made with the idea there existed a distinction between “life” and “religion”. The Dineh made no such distinction. During a visit to Monument Valley, the home of the Dinah, several years ago, I asked our guide if there were ever any earthquakes there. She stared back at me, wide-eyed, “Are you joking? This is SACRED land!” I have never forgotten that. This song is about a Dinah man (with far less means than a Pope) walking the Earth and teaching people love and respect. When he dies, people forget his music and sell key chains and t-shirts with his picture on them (see Mom? I’m not such a romantic, after all!).

8) Sky Unlocked (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitar, congas & vocals: David Stockdale
electric guitar: Mario Chiesa
fretless bass: Alex Carreri
drums: Stefano Bertolotti
Thanks to my son, Michael Joseph.


“With the slightest of movement/Horizons change/Herd of horses, wind-sent/Across endless range.”

My son had a lot of problems while growing up, both psychological and physiological (like me and most of the Stockdale men I know). My separating from and eventually divorcing his mother did not help. Still, I believe the one thing we cannot deny a person is the right to grow and evolve. That’s what life is all about. That’s why I am in favour of divorce, although I believe one must work hard to resolve the problems before ultimately making such a decision. This song is about flying. A baby cliff eagle must leap from its nest into the void to evolve. It has to feel ready and a lot of that requires building self-esteem through firm guidance and setting a good example. Then instinct kicks in and the eagle flies. That’s when the sky unlocks. If you clip its wings, it dies.

9) No Right (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitar & vocals: David Stockdale
soprano sax: Andrea Zermani
bass: Alex Carreri
drums: Stefano Bertolotti
Thanks to Susan Pounders for the Ghandi quote,
“An eye for an eye makes us all blind.”


“You cannot kill in the name of higher powers/Or die for the sake of peace/Preach from your highest towers/Then bring them to their knees.”

What I wanted to do with this song was to make a statement against war, and in particular against the war in Iraq, that could be applied to either side, without judgement. “Highest towers” could refer to American skyscrapers or Iraqi minarets. “They had no right” could be maintained by anyone on any side who has ever been harmed by war. “We had no right” is the realisation the justification for this war was the desire for power by a small group of leaders. This desire works against us, since it is not the people who have the power and it is not the leaders who actually fight these wars. War is and always will be perverse and bloody manipulation, except in the case of defence. Insanity and torture go hand and hand with it, so don’t bulk at the images or say you didn’t know. Imagine, rather, to quote John Lennon, “nothing to kill or die for…” It’s incredible to think that actually scares some people more than the killing itself. P.S, I broke down and cried while singing this in the recording studio but thanks to the incredible patience of our sound engineer, Alberto Callegari, somehow got through it.

10) Get Away (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitars, congas & vocals: David Stockdale
Hammond; Paolo Negri
background vocals: Andrea Zermani
bass: Alex Carreri
drums: Stefano Bertolotti
Thanks to all the battered people who find the
dignity and identity to move on.


“Change may come your way/Ain’t any easier to stay/In the end we pay/For the ones we let get away/Get away, get away.”

When George W. was re-elected, my father wrote saying he was coming to Europe to “get away”. The realisation a majority of Americans actually had wanted another four years of W. was too much for him and a lot of other people we knew. Of course, it wasn’t that simple. Maybe Americans were naïve enough to think W. could or would actually finish the war in Iraq. Maybe Gobbles was right: you can more easily persuade people who are scared and culturally isolated. Whatever, after the big defeat (or victory the Republicans had been working hard to achieve since the 80’s—check out the very current words from Joni Mitchell’s 1985 “Dog Eat Dog” CD…), an analogy was made between battered women and the Democrat party. According to this theory, both were fighting desperately for their dignity and identity after having been abused. Far fetched? Maybe, unless you start to consider there really were priests saying Christians would go to hell if they voted for Kerry…

11) Real Ground (words & music by David Stockdale)

acoustic guitars, congas & vocals: David Stockdale
soprano sax & background vocals: Andrea Zermani
bass: Alex Carreri
batteria: Stefano Bertolotti
Grazie alla meravigliosa poesia di Lady Sabrina.


“There’s a moon in Lady Sabrina’s eyes/And warm perfume, her embrace is right/A loving spoonful/With a touch of something wise.”

The second guitar on this track and all the tracks with two guitars on this CD is an old baby Guild from the 40’s I play in a regular tuning. A friend of mine, Guido, bought it for ten dollars in a pawn shop in the U.S. years ago and loaned it to me for the recording sessions.
This song was written for my partner, Sabrina, to whom this CD is dedicated. Love isn’t a miracle—it takes time and needs work. Sabrina “grounds” me to a beautiful garden I need to weed now and then. She’s a pioneer woman with great social skills and a firm dedication to “home sweet home”, which she can create even when we’re on the road. She’s open, curious, passionate and a wonderful person to share life with. I wish I could express it better than that. On the other hand, if I could, I would stop looking for a way to express it!

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